COLUMBIA, S.C. — Two men have been arrested in last week's drive-by killing on Two Notch Road which the sheriff now says was not a random killing, but a targeted slaying.
Lott announced the arrests in the death of 28-year-old Joshua Peterson at a news conference Thursday afternoon. He said the suspects, 44-year-old Aaron Evans and 25-year-old Simeon Miller, were arrested Wednesday. Evans was found in Columbia, while Miller was taken into custody in Charleston.
Last Friday, Peterson was shot while he was driving in the 7900 block of Two Notch Road. His vehicle crashed near a church, and he was taken to the hospital where he later died.
Lott said he knows the killing caused concern in the community, but he said this was not a random killing.
"This was a targeted hit," Lott said. "This was an assassination."
Lott said the suspects knew Peterson was going to a courthouse hearing in downtown Columbia. They followed him in their car with the intent of killing him, the sheriff says, and when Peterson dropped off someone in the Dentsville area, they knew was alone. That's when the killing happened.
"This was premeditated, this was not spur of the moment," Lott added.
Lott wouldn't say exactly what led to the killing but said the victim and the suspects knew each other and had some type of dispute.
He said he believes the killers thought they'd get away with it. But a community tip and the work of his investigators ultimately led deputies to the suspects.
"You may with it for a little way for a little while, but that knock on the door, that tap on your shoulder is going to come, because we're going to get you and put you in jail where you need to go," Lott said.
He also announced an arrest in an unrelated case from back on May 5. Anthony Williams, 37, is charged with the killing of 31-year-old Richard Patterson at a location on Bluff Road. In that case, the sheriff also said those two men had an ongoing dispute. He said that's the case in all of the homicides his agency has worked this year.
"We don't have people running around shooting into cars and shooting into homes without some kind of reason," he said. "We've got people who just don't respect human life...if there's a disagreement it's settled with the loss of human life."
There have been a total of 17 killings in Richland County this year. That's down three from this time last year, the sheriff says. They have three murder cases from this year that remain unsolved.
He said the community has helped with their tips, and he believes that's because they're tired of what they're seeing.
"They're fed up with it," Lott said. "Little gangsters running around in our neighborhoods." They're tired of it and enough is enough."